On Stage (Extra): Cirque du Soleil crawls into area

Also: Jersey Boys come to Playhouse on Rodney Square

By Denny DyroffStaff Writer, The Times


Cirque du Soleil’s OVO comes to Philadelphia this week.

The entertainment calendar is looking good for next week with two blockbuster shows heading to the area for multi-day runs — Cirque du Soleil and “The Jersey Boys.”

Many traditional circuses have relied on their animals as major draws. One of them just sent its elephants into permanent retirement — much to the delight of animal rights groups.

The need for a non-traditional circus had been around for 100 years and then a new type of circus arrived in North America 30 years ago. In 1984, Cirque du Soleil made its debut. The circus, which is based in Montreal, used a theatrical approach that focused on characters. And, it had no performing animals.

Cirque du Soleil places creativity at the core of all its endeavors so as to ensure limitless possibilities. The Cirque du Soleil dream is also an integral part of its philosophy — to take the adventure further and step beyond its dreams. Cirque du Soleil gives its artists and creators the necessary freedom to imagine their most incredible dreams and bring them to life.

It was somewhat of a radical approach back when it started. But, it obviously was a smart one. More than 100 million spectators have seen a Cirque du Soleil show since 1984 and more than 20 million people attended Cirque du Soliel performances last year alone.

The Cirque du Soleil version of the circus kept the tradition of performing under a Big Top. But, because the company is based in French-speaking Quebec, the tent is called the “Grand Chapiteau.”

A few years ago, Cirque du Soleil added touring productions that were made for indoor arenas rather than large outdoor tents — arenas such as Philadelphia’s Liacouras Center and Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

The Liacouras Center (1776 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215.204.2400, www.liacourascenter.com) will host Cirque du Soleil’s “OVO” from May 11-15 and then the production will return for a run at Boardwalk Hall from June 22-26.

OVO,” one of Cirque du Soleil’s incredible and amazing combinations of acrobats, costumes, music and international performers, is an “insect-themed” production that teems with life. Insects work, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy in motion. Their home is filled with biodiversity, beauty, action and moments of quiet emotion.

“OVO” is billed as “a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects produce a relentless display of energy and movement. The insects’ home is a world of biodiversity and beauty filled with noisy action and moments of quiet emotion.

The awestruck insects are intensely curious when a mysterious egg appears, representing the enigma and cycles of their lives. It is love at first sight when a gawky, quirky insect arrives in this bustling community and a fabulous ladybug catches his eye — and the feeling is mutual.

“OVO” is filled with marked contrasts. The hidden, secret world at our feet is revealed as tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. And as the sun rises on a bright new day the vibrant cycle of insect life begins anew.

The name “OVO” means “egg” in Portuguese. This timeless symbol of the life cycle and birth of numerous insects represents the underlying thread of the show. Graphically,

“OVO” hides an insect in its name: — the two “Os” represent the eyes while the letter “V” forms the nose.

The cast of “OVO” features 50 performing artists from 12 countries specializing in many acrobatic acts. The main acts in the arena tour production of “OVO” are “Ants,” “Slackwire,” “Orvalho,” “Wall,” “Diabolos,’ “Acro Trio,” “Creatura” and “Web.”

In “Web,” one of the funny spiders reveals her sensual side when she attracts the attention of a group of Crickets by weaving her body over, under and through the strands of her web. She’s soon joined by another bright, dazzling spider contortionist who casts a sensual spell of her own.

Two of the show’s three spiders — Aruna Baata and Alanna Baker — made a visit to Philly a few weeks ago for a press preview where they performed their act. Fittingly, the event was held at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University — in the room that houses the “Tarantulas: Live and Up Close” exhibit.

Baata and Baker work very well together even though they come from dissimilar disciplines and very different cultural backgrounds

Baker grew up in Sussex, just outside of London, and was a British national-caliber competitor in acrobatic gymnastics. She began training in gymnastics and acrobatics when she was eight and medaled at a number of European and World Championships.

“I’ve been into gymnastics since I was really young,” said Baker. “A few years ago, the ‘OVO’ team held auditions in London. That’s where I was training with my gymnastics club. The people from Cirque du Soleil came to our gym and that was the beginning of it all.

“I started off as a flea in “OVO.” After awhile, I transformed from a flea into a spider. I really enjoy being the black spider. I like the fact that I’m the dark element. Working with Aruna is great. We clicked right away.”

Baata joined Cirque Du Soleil in 2009, performing hand-balancing on canes in “Quidam.” In 2010, she joined “Saltimbanco,” where she also performed hand-balancing on canes. In December 2013, she joined “OVO,” where she is currently performing contortion as well as back-up hand-balancing.

The ultra-flexible contortionist, whose name Aruna is a nickname for Ariunsanaa, is a third-generation circus performer from Mongolia. She was born in Ulaanbaatar but spent most of her childhood in Brazil. When she was seven, Baata began training contortion and hand-balancing with her father.

At age nine, Baata began to perform contortion and adagio with her father in a traditional circus in Brazil, as well as other South American countries. For many years, she was awarded as the Best Contortionist in Brazil.

“My dad was my coach,” said Baata, who is one of just a few people in the world who speak Mongolian with a Brazilian accent. “I grew up in the circus and always watched the contortionists. I started training and it felt good from the start. It wasn’t difficult at all.”

It’s hard to believe that doing a one-armed push-up with both your heels resting on the back of your head isn’t difficult — or extremely painful. Most of us will just have to take her word for it.

Both performers are onstage for most of the show. And, both have to spend close to an hour preparing for each performance.

“I do a good, thorough warm-up,” said Baker.  “It’s 20-30 minutes depending on how many shows we have. Then, it takes 30-40 minutes to put on my make-up. I go through it step-by-step. Every insect does his or her won make-up.”

Baata, whose act relies on great flexibility, also has to make sure she is physically prepared for every performance.

“I like to have at least 45 minutes to get fully warmed up,” said Baata, who can twist and turn her body in ways that bodies don’t usually allow. “We have a lot of training each week.

“I like everything about the role of the spider — the way the spider moves and how we look on stage. And, I like the fact that we have three different spiders — white, red and black. The white spider is the queen bee.”

Video link for “OVO” — https://youtu.be/RAIsCS85bJM.

The shows at the Liacouras Center will be at 7:30 p.m. from May 11-14 with matinees at 4 p.m. on May 14 and 1:30 and 5 p.m. on May 15. Tickets prices range from $31-$164. 

jersey boys

Jersey Boys

The musical “Jersey Boys” exploded on Broadway in 2005 much the same way its subject matter made an immediate impact in the pop music world in the early 1960s. The show has toured the world numerous times and now is ready to spend a week in Delaware.

 “Jersey Boys,” which will run from May 10-15 at the Playhouse on Rodney Square (10th and Market streets, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-0200, www. duponttheatre.com), is a Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award winning hit musical based on the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

The Four Seasons, who burst on the scene with the mega-hit “Sherry” in 1961, were a quartet featuring Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. The four guys from working-class families in North Jersey wrote their own songs, invented their own sound and sold 175 million records worldwide.

“Jersey Boys” is a lively musical that features a number of hit songs by other artists from the era such as “Silhouettes,” a hit by the Rays in 1957 (and also a Top Five hit by Herman’s Hermits in 1965); “My Boyfriend’s Back,” which was a hit by The Angels in 1963; and “I’m in the Mood for Love,” a Top 10 by Louis Armstrong in 1935.

Mostly, it features gold record singles by the Four Seasons, including “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”. “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”, “Dawn (Go Away)”, “Big Man In Town”, “Stay”, “Let’s Hang On!”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Can’t take My Eyes Off of You”, “Rag Doll” and “Who Loves You”.

The National Tour’s cast includes Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, Aaron De Jesus as Frankie Valli, Keith Hines as Nick Massi, Drew Seeley as Bob Gaudio and Barry Anderson as Bob Crewe.

“When I moved to New York after I graduated from college, ‘Jersey Boys’ was the first show I saw,” said Hines, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Washington, D.C. “After seeing the show, being a part of it was a goal. It took me five rounds of auditioning to make it.”

Hines is a native of Ponca City, Oklahoma who graduated from Oklahoma City University with bachelors and masters degrees in musical theater.

“Music was the first thing I was good at in a place where high school football dominated,” said Hines. “I sang in an ensemble group. Then, I realized I couldn’t make a living with ensemble singing so I decided to go to college.

“My six years at Oklahoma City University were very important years. From 2011-2013, I went to The Studio New York to study acting. I did a lot of regional theater and then my agent submitted me for ‘Jersey Boys.’

“I love this show. It’s totally rock and roll-based and that’s the music we get to do eight times a week. In two years, it has never lost its excitement for me.”

In a phone interview during a previous tour, Gaudio, who joined as composer and advisor, said, “Nicky (Massi) is gone and Tommy (DeVito) is living in Las Vegas. Of course, Franki (Valli) is still around. But, we’re never thinking about a reunion. I have no desire to perform anymore.

“This show isn’t just four guys singing Four Seasons songs. After seeing how well ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ did, we realized that there was a place for rock-and-roll on Broadway. We told our stories to the show’s book writers and then they ran with it. But, they had our artistic direction.”

“Jersey Boys” had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in October 2004. The show opened at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway to critical acclaim on November 6, 2005.

“When it first opened in La Jolla, we had the final veto,” said Gaudio. “The show is done in documentary style and is fairly accurate historically. But, some stuff in the show isn’t chronologically correct. For example, the show opens with a French version of ‘Oh, What A Night’ when, in reality, that was one of our last hits.

“In the beginning, I came from a group called the Royal Teens. We were primarily an instrumental group. Finding Frankie was the key. That was the muse. The show depicts the issues and the inner turmoil we dealt with. But, when push came to shove, Frankie and I were on the same page.”

One page led to another for the Four Seasons. When the story concluded, the four “Jersey Boys” wrapped up a career that included over 25 Top 10 hits, a slew of gold records and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Audiences really love this show and keep coming back again and again for many reasons,” said Hines. “They love it because of the story. It’s a very interesting and unique story. It has all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster — gang ties, broken marriages and underdogs — a group of kids no-one believed in who went on to accomplish a lot.

“And, there is the music. People know the songs –and they love the songs. The Four Seasons stayed relevant somehow — even when the ‘British Invasion’ arrived.

“I really like my character. I like his dedication and passion for the music. Nick was all about the music all the time. And, he was a fun guy. He had a really good sense of humor. Nick is the only one who is not still alive. So, I have a little more freedom with the role. I’m quite pleased with what I’ve been able to bring to the role.”

Video link for “Jersey Boys” — https://youtu.be/4a4RQHHBVqQ.

“Jersey Boys” will run from May 10-15 at the Playhouse on Rodney Square (10th and Market streets, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-0200, www. duponttheatre.com). Ticket prices range from $50-$135.


Waist Watchers

There is another new stage production having an extended run in Philly that is well worth seeing — even if it is not as elaborate as “OVO” or “Jersey Boys.”

The topic of weight loss — the seemingly never-ending struggle to be that perfect weight — is a topic women (and some men) around the world know very well.

It also is the topic that comes to life with gusto in Alan Jacobson’s “WaistWatchers The Musical,” which is running now through May 29 at the Penns Landing Playhouse (211 South Christopher Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, 855- 448-7469, http://www.plplayhouse.com).

The 90-minute musical tale, set in Cook’s Women’s Gym, follows the women as they go through the ups and downs of survival in a weight-and-beauty obsessed world. 

The cast of the laugh-inducing show at the Penns Landing Playhouse features Dionne Carole as Cara, Krissy Johnson as Cheryl, Pam Jorgensen as Cindy and Eleonore Thomas as Connie.

“The show is all about weight loss and all we talk about backstage at the show is food,” said Thomas, during a phone interview Monday evening from her home in New Castle, Delaware.

“WaistWatchers The Musical” takes a light-hearted look at four women singing about assorted body issues from dieting, exercise, and plastic surgery, to sex after 40 and the relentless search for a positive self image through 25 popular songs with parody lyrics.

“With ‘Waist Watchers,’ it’s a show you can relate to,” said Thomas, who also works as an outreach educator at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. “It’s along the lines of ‘Menopause the Musical.’

“All of us at some point have had to deal with weight loss or weight gain. It has a little bit of a message about being happy with who you are. But, there is not too much of a story line.”

The show features parody songs like “Botox Queen” to the tune of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”; “I Hope I Lose It” to the tune of “I Hope I Get It” from “A Chorus Line”; “Viagra” to the tune of “Maria” from “West Side Story” and “I Feel My Butt Squeeze” to the tune of Carole King’s “I Feel The Earth Move.”

“My big number is ‘I’m Fat and I’m O.K.’,” said Thomas, who also has worked as a plus-size model. “Connie is happy with who she is.

“I relate to the fat positive movement. Be happy with who you are on your journey. If you worry that the world perceives you on your look, you’re never going to be happy. I have a lot to offer the world — no matter what size I am.”

Video link for WaistWatchers The Musical” — https://youtu.be/gJC2cI3OSYY.

Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. on Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $45 and $65. 



Another show that relies on theatrics — even though it is a music presentation rather than a theater show — is a concert by Ghost, a rock band with anonymous members.

After a highly successful tour of North America last fall, Ghost has returned to North America to headline its “Black to the Future Tour” — a nationwide tour that started in North Jersey in early April and will crisscross America before it winds up in Albany, New York at the end of May.

Even though Ghost played the Union Transfer in Philly at the end of September, it seemed logical that the popular metal band from Europe would return to the area for several reasons.

Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia happened on the same weekend and that forced the cancelling and rescheduling of many of the city’s music events — especially acts who were set to play Philly clubs on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Ghost, a Swedish quintet featuring “Papa Emeritus III and his Nameless Ghouls,” was one of those acts. According to its Facebook page, “Ghost records and performs pop hymns that glorify and glamorize the disgusting and sacrilegious.”

The anti-religious Swedish rockers were slated to perform in Philadelphia on September 26. But, in a twist of irony, the band shifted its Philly show to September 29 because of Pope Francis.

 “Frankie was bigger than Papa Emeritus III so we decided not to try to play in the city that weekend,” said one of the Nameless Ghouls, during a trans-Atlantic phone interview from his home in Stockholm, Sweden. “There definitely were a few words back-and-forth. We offered to co-headline the show with the Pope but they wouldn’t have it.”

The market for fans waiting for another Ghost show in Philly was created by a combination of those who had tickets but were unable to attend the rescheduled show and those who saw the show, were blown away and left wanting for more.

And, the market became even bigger when more music fans became aware of Ghost when the band from Linköping stole the show at the recent Grammy Awards show. Ghost’s “Cirice,” from its critically-acclaimed third album “Meliora,” was awarded a Grammy for “Best Metal Performance” this past February at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia was not included on the current tour itinerary for Ghost, whose five Nameless Ghouls use symbols and symbolic names instead of real names — (Alpha,), lead guitarist; (Water), bassist; (Wind), keyboardist; (Earth), drummer; and (Omega,), rhythm guitarist.

“We didn’t want to play that original date in Philadelphia because we couldn’t play,” said Nameless Ghoul (Fire), during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Austin. “Our fans would not have been able to get to the venue.

“I don’t know exactly why we aren’t coming back on this tour to do another show there. But, the tour routing is not up to us. Hopefully, we’ll play Philly next time. We’ve always had great shows in Philadelphia.”

Fortunately, area Ghost fans have not been shut out completely. Ghost, which is one of the hottest acts in the music business right now, is playing a show on May 8 in Baltimore at The Hippodrome (12 North Eutaw Street, Baltimore, Maryland, www.france-merrickpac.com).

Baltimore may be another market altogether — but it really isn’t a distant destination.

Consider this — trip-planning websites list the travel time from Kennett Square to the Union Transfer in Philadelphia at just under an hour and the travel time to the theater in Baltimore at just over an hour-and-a-quarter.

Tell me that you wouldn’t spend an extra 20 minutes travel time to attend a show you really want to see and I’ll tell you that you’re not much of a fan.

“On this tour, we’re going for bigger venues in terms of production,” said Nameless Ghoul. “The last time, we played smaller clubs. This time, we’re playing theaters. And, we’re still focusing on songs from ‘Meliora’.”

“Meliora” was released on August 21, 2015 and debuted at No. 1 at Independent Retail, No. 2 at Rock, and in the Top 10 (#8) on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Charts. Ghost are one of just four bands from Sweden to have been in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart (joining Avicii, Ace of Base, and Europe).

“In talking about the album’s theme, the word we used was ‘futuristuc’,” said the Nameless Ghoul. “It was supposed to have an air of futurism. Our last two albums were more Gothic — more looking back.

“Before we went in the studio to make ‘Meliora,’ we spent a lot of time doing pre-production. We did a few sessions last summer. Since October 1, we’ve been in one studio or another constantly.

“We finished recording in February and remixed it in March. Five months in the studio — it took a lot of time. The longest studio times were in Sweden and in L.A. We used six studio altogether. This record really cost a lot of money to make.”

A lot of the album was made in Sweden with Klas Åhlund as the producer. The album also marked the debut of the band’s third lead singer — Papa Emeritus III.

The group’s vocalist portrays the band’s mascot character, a Satanic priest known as Papa Emeritus. There have been three different characters taking the name Papa Emeritus. The band’s original vocalist Papa Emeritus was with the group from 2008-2012 and Papa Emeritus II was the front man from 2012 until last year.

“We knew quite early on, if we were going to have a pope singing, we have to do what they (the Catholics) do and get a new pope every couple years,” said Nameless Ghoul, who speaks fluent English. “We knew that if it was going to be interesting and exciting for years, we’d have to go through renewals.

“So, you have to create instant nostalgia. The way to do that is to have different runs — Papa Emeritus I, Papa Emeritus II, Papa Emeritus III. We’ve created small dynasties. Papa Emeritus III has been in the band for almost a year. He was appointed to us this time last year. The band is two guitars, one keyboard, bass and drums — and a vocalist/kazoo master.

“Onstage, the whole idea is for us to be as close to a religious ceremony as you can be with a bunch of people coming into the same room expecting something. We’re creating the idea of people being touched by something from beyond.

“We’re not a gloom band that preaches evil. We’re optimistic and our message is very humanistic. The idea is for it to be euphoric. People leave our show being happy.”

Video link for Ghost — https://youtu.be/6A-IoOEPbUs.

The show at will get underway at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $24-$53.50.

the posies

The Posies

The Posies are coming to the area with a show that is not theatrical but still features a mystery.

With their eighth album, “Solid States” set to be released on May 20 on MyMusicEmpire, The Posies are embarking on a Secret Pop Up Show Tour.

None of these full band shows will be in clubs, but all in cool, alternative event locations in the each city — with the actual address of the show being released to ticket holders not more than 24 hours in advance.

It could be a photography studio or a comfy living room or a house boat, rehearsal studio or deli. But whatever the venue is, it won’t be the usual expected place to see a band like The Posies perform.

The Posies will sneak into the Delaware Valley on May 11 for a Pop Up Secret Show on their Solid States tour. The new CD “Solid States” will be available at the show along with a bonus download.

According to the press release, the show will start at 7 p.m. with ticket prices ranging from $32.647-$80.12. Information on the show and on obtaining a ticket can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-posies-secret-pop-up-show-tickets-23342015597.

“So many things have changed — new music, new instruments, new styles,” said the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Ozona, Texas.

“So, we thought — let’s shake it up. We hadn’t toured the states in years so we didn’t want to do the old same-old/same-old. We’ve been doping the whole new albuym in the show — same as we did on our European tour.”

The Posies are a band that came out of the Pacific Northwest — Bellingham, Washington — but now the two main remaining members Jon Auer and Stringfellow live in the area around Paris, France.

According to Stringfellow, “So many things have changed, either by choice or by circumstance, in the six years between this album and the one before it. We’ve had two bandmates die, a divorce and remarriage, a transoceanic move .There’s been good things and difficult things, but nothing is in the same place for us.  So it makes sense that this record would sound different from its predecessors.”

Auer said, “Generally, we recorded the new album at our home studios in France and at a studio in Los Angeles. We worked on it all last year. We had a big surge and then we lost our drummer.”

On May 21, 2015, the Posies’ drummer Darius Minwalla died suddenly in his home in Vancouver, B.C. On March 26, 2016, the Posies’ bass player Joe Skyward passed away after a battle with cancer.

“It’s been a rough year for friends and bandmates,” said Stringfellow. “But, we’re still here.”

Auer said, “We decided to just be a duo again. We were playing with programmed beats and a laptop. Then, we realized that we needed a drummer. We started the album with electronic elements and then added a drummer — Frankie Siragusa. He’s a great drummer and is now a touring member of the band.”

Stringfellow said, “The sonic palette we have really reflects the kind of music in greater spirit of our work. We wanted to do more than just go with guitar, bass and drums. It’s tough because, when you’ve been around for awhile, you get pigeon-holed — and we don’t like that.

“There is a lot of diversity in what we do. We wanted to rally make a statement this time. You’ve got to push through the boundaries to keep things interesting. We never want to get stagnant.”

Video link for the Posies — https://youtu.be/U0sbmOLJUTM. 

The Glorious Sons

The Glorious Sons

Two of the more interesting bands to come out of Canada in recent years will be performing in Philadelphia on May 11 — Plants and Animals at Johnny Brenda’s and Glorious Sons at the Barbary.

Based in Kingston, Ontario, the Glorious Sons are a reflection of the environment — a blue-collar band from a blue-collar town. The foursome — Jay Emmons, Chris Koster, Adam Paquette, Chris Huot and Brett Emmons — has been making a name for itself north of the border for a few years already and now is poised to take on America.

“Me and my brother Jay were always playing together,” said Brett Emmons, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia. “We did an acoustic album together and my band would open for his band.

“I went off to school in Halifax and I told Jay about Adam. Jay Called Adam to join the band and then Adam brought along Andrew, our first guitarist. Adam and Andrew were jamming on guitar and drums.

“Jay had worked with Chris before so he got him to join the band. All the while, I was in Halifax studying at Dalhousie University. They kept calling me to come home and join the band. That was four years ago. They had already played a couple shows together before I returned from Nova Scotia.

“When I came home, we got a gig at Brandy’s on Ontario Street (Kingston). We’d play there every Thursday night. The crowd kept growing. We rode the momentum and it never seemed to stop. It still hasn’t stopped. We started playing in Toronto a lot.”

The band burst on to the scene in 2013 winning the HTZ-FM Rocksearch then launching three consecutive hit singles on to the airwaves with “Mama, “White Noise” and “Heavy.”

“White Noise” and “Heavy” both rose to Number 2 on the Canadian Rock Charts. 

The band was the most played new Canadian artist on rock radio in 2014, and overall only Pearl Jam received more spins at the format last year.

After producing the band’s EP “Shapeless Art” in 2013 with The Trews’ John-Angus MacDonald, they collaborated once again on a majority of the compositions that make up their debut album “The Union.” In addition to working with MacDonald, the Glorious Sons worked with famed producer Gavin Brown on the lead single “Heavy” and the ballad “Lightning.”  The album was mixed by Werner F and Gus van Go.

“We recorded ‘Shapeless Art’ in 2013 and ‘The Union’ in 2014,” said Emmons. “We’ve also done a couple one-off singles for the fans but no recording yet for our next album. We’ve been doing demos — but nothing serious.

“This will be our fifth time touring the states. When we get back, we plan on living in the studio. We’ve got so many songs ready to record. We just started playing some of the new songs in our live show and they’ve been going over pretty well. With three years jamming the old songs live, it’s nice to have new songs in our set.”

When asked to describe the Glorious Sons’ music, Emmons had a simple answer.

“I always go with rock and roll,” said Emmons. “’Rock’ is just a blanket term. I don’t believe in ‘indie-rock’ or ‘folk-rock’ — and I guess ‘alternative rock’ is everything else. Forget all those genres. Our music is rock and roll.”

 Video link the Glorious Sons —https://youtu.be/HggvsHLbheQ.

The show at the Barbary will start at 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. The show at the Chameleon, which also features Colors Best Kept and Watching Savanna Burn, will begin at 7 p.m. with tickets priced at $12.

Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals

Plants and Animals, a band from Quebec, will headline a show at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684,

www.johnnybrendas.com) which also features Wintersleep and Upperfields.

Halifax, the capitol of Nova Scotia, also figured in the history of Plants and Animals — a Montreal-based trio that features Nicolas Basque, Warren Spicer and Matthew Woodley.

“I grew up in Halifax and moved to Montreal 20 years ago,” said Spicer, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Quebec.

“Me and the drummer Woody are from Nova Scotia. We were friends when we were kids and have played music together since we were 12. We met Nick at Concordia University in Montreal.

“Our first album was an instrumental record back in 2004. Then, we released an EP in 2007 and our first full-length ‘Parc Avenue’ in 2008. Then, we released two more albums — one in 2010 and the other in 2012.”

Then, it was time for a break.

“From 2008-2102, we were locked in that album-tour-album-tour cycle,” said Spicer. “So, we got out of that cycle and came home to pursue a normal life. We all had kids and we wanted to be with them.

“Our work flow was different — just a few days every month. We worked our band work into our life cycle. Our life didn’t stop for the making of an album. We had a million things going on at the same time.”

Eight years after their debut album. Plants and Animals released “Waltzed in from the Rumbling” on Aril 29 on Secret City Records. Recorded to tape, the new album embodies the raw musicianship characteristic of the group, while injecting symphonic crescendos, lyrical balladry, and metamorphic song developments. 

Since their most recent LP, “The End of That” (2012), the members of Plants and Animals intentionally removed time constraints from their process. The group sought to reconnect with the honesty and autonomy of music created without pressure.

According to Spicer, “It was more like an art studio than a recording studio — a mess, pieces of songs all over the place. We had this big canvas and were constantly filling in corners here, erasing there, repainting that part, standing back and looking at the whole picture to see what we had.”

The influences of the new LP are far and wide — the broken soul of Van Morrison; the off-kilter geometry of J Dilla; the dark, French funk of Serge Gainsbourg; the fire of John Coltrane’s quartet; the quirk of Angelo Badalamenti. The result is pure Plants and Animals — wide open with room to move.

“All the songs informed each other,” said Spicer. “We’re really happy with the way the album came out. It allowed us to do what we’re good at doing. Some bands can just go in the studio and lay it down. This time, there were event times that we forgot we were making an album. At a certain point, we knew we had to finish it. We knew we had to release it at some point.

“Still, we had the freedom. We were able to do what we wanted. We could exploit everything — bringing in strings and horns. Often times, we did take things farther than they should go — but we had the time to pull it back. We had enough time to consider things. On the whole, everything turned out exactly the way we wanted.

“Our main goal was to make music that got to our hearts — an emotional connection rather than a cerebral connection. I used this album to process a lot of stuff that was going on in my life. We all were working through a lot of stuff. So, making the album was an emotional experience. Making the record healed me and the two other guys.”

Video link for Plants and Animals — https://youtu.be/5NcKXo5OOiE.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Day Wave

Day Wave

Day Wave is one of those musical acts that are hard to describe.

Day Wave may have a band name but is actually the work of just one musician — Jackson Phillips.

In the studio, all of Day Wave’s music is written and performed by Jackson Phillips.

When Day Wave goes on tour, it is a band — a group of musicians assembled by Phillios to bring the music to life in a stage setting.

On May 11, Day Wave will visit the area for a show at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com).

“I have a live band that I use for tours,” said Phillips, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Omaha, Nebraska. “We played our first show about a year ago. It’s a five-piece. I play guitar and sing. We have another guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.”

Day Wave released its debut EP “Head Case” in 2015 and followed with the “Hard to Read” EP earlier this year.

“I grew up in Marin County (California) and then attended Berklee College if Music in Boston from 2008-2011,” said Phillips. “I went to New York after Berklee and then moved to L.A. six months later.

“I lived in Los Angeles for about a year but I had a hard time making music. None of L.A. was doing me any good. So, I moved to Oakland. I haven’ tapped into the music scene here at all.

“That’s one of the reasons I chose the Bay Area. There isn’t much here to distract me. I made ‘Head Case’ at the end of 2014. I did everything myself on the EP and released one song at a time on a music blog.

“Eventually, the EP dropped on regular outlets like Spotify and iTunes. The EP got some serious airplay on Sirius XM and that helped as lot.”

Day Wave recently smashed SXSW 2016 with accolades from Entertainment Weekly, Paste, Noisey, and more. Phillips and his band kicked off the “Head Case/Hard To Read World Tour” this month.

“Hard To Read” was performed, produced, mixed and mastered by Day Wave directly to tape and the result is a beautiful five-track EP.

“Recording to tape is a pain in the ass — but it’s worth it,” said Phillips. “I can’t be lazy. ‘Hard To Read’ was made in the same way in the same space as ‘Head Case.’ I recorded it in spring 2105.

“I’m working on a full-length album right now. I’m still doing the same way except that I’m doing it at a studio in Long Beach instead of the studio at my house. I play all the instruments. I don’t want to record with a band yet — maybe in the future.

“I write on guitar and I’m writing all the time. Songs almost always start with chord progressions and basic melody. If one catches my interest, I start recording. The song never really gets finished until the recording is done.

“I’m touring the next couple months — going to Europe and then back to the states for some festivals. Then, I’ll go back home and finish the album. I’m hoping to have it done this summer.”

Video link for Day Wave — https://youtu.be/08xrXurmlkY.

The show at Boot & Saddle, which has Joy Again as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Pin It

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment